Disease, Communication, and the Ethics of (In) Visibility
- 804 Downloads
As the recent Ebola outbreak demonstrates, visibility is central to the shaping of political, medical, and socioeconomic decisions. The symposium in this issue of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry explores the uneasy relationship between the necessity of making diseases visible, the mechanisms of legal and visual censorship, and the overall ethics of viewing and spectatorship, including the effects of media visibility on the perception of particular “marked” bodies. Scholarship across the disciplines of communication, anthropology, gender studies, and visual studies, as well as a photographer’s visual essay and memorial reflection, throw light on various strategies of visualization and (de)legitimation and link these to broader socioeconomic concerns. Questions of the ethics of spectatorship, such as how to evoke empathy in the representation of individuals’ suffering without perpetuating social and economic inequalities, are explored in individual, (trans-)national, and global contexts, demonstrating how disease (in)visibility intersects with a complex nexus of health, sexuality, and global/national politics. A sensible management of visibility—an “ecology of the visible”—can be productive of more viable ways of individual and collective engagement with those who suffer.
KeywordsDisease Visibility Representation Spectatorship Empathy Censorship
- Brodsky, C. 2014. Remembering Stephanie. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11(4). doi: 10.1007/s11673-014-9584-6.
- Brodsky, C., S. Byram, and J. Matesa. 2003. Knowing Stephanie. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
- Crimp, D. 2002. Melancholia and moralism: Essays on AIDS and queer politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- DeShazer, M.K. 2013. Mammographies: The culture of breast cancer narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- DeShazer, M.K. 2014. Documenting women’s post-operative bodies: Knowing Stephanie and “Remembering Stephanie” as collaborative cancer narratives. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11(4). doi: 10.1007/s11673-014-9582-8.
- Marchessault, J., and K. Sawchuk. 2000. Wild science: Reading feminism, medicine and the media. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Moeller, S.D. 1999. Compassion fatigue: How the media sell disease, famine, wars, and death. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Sargent, C., and S. Larchanché. 2014. Disease, risk, and contagion: French colonial and postcolonial constructions of “African” bodies. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11(4). doi: 10.1007/s11673-014-9578-4.
- Serlin, D. 2010. Imagining illness: Public health and visual culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Singh, P., L. Cartwright, and C. Visperas. 2014. African Kaposi’s sarcoma in the light of global AIDS: Antiblackness and viral visibility. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11(4). doi: 10.1007/s11673-014-9577-5.
- Squiers, C. 2005. The body at risk: Photography of disorder, illness, and healing. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Stoddard Holmes, M., and J.E. Schultz, eds. 2009. Cancer stories. Literature and Medicine 28(2): vi–400.Google Scholar
- Treichler, P.A. 2014. “When pirates feast … who pays?” Condoms, advertising, and the visibility paradox, 1920s and 1930s. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 11(4). doi: 10.1007/s11673-014-9583-7.
- Treichler, P.A., L. Cartwright, and C. Penley. 1998. The visible woman: Imagining technologies, gender and science. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar